Oct 23 – 23 Pentecost
God’s Response and Promise
God’s Spirit Poured Out
Background: The Book of Joel is the second book in the Masoretic book of the Twelve Prophets. Joel (meaning the Lord [יהוה] is God in Hebrew) is a prophet, most likely in post-exilic Israel. The book spans not only the classic prophetic works but also speaks of the apocalypse through the use of liturgy. Joel introduces the theme of restoration following the attack of the “army (of locust)” by יהוה’s hand. Joel opens the door to the theme of the Lords’ day in later works.
Theme: This passage marks the transition from God’s demand for Israel’s Lament ceremony into God’s oracles of restoration for Israel. This passage is the first and second series of oracles of restoration pronounced by God through Joel for “all the people” to hear so they may believe in God’s promise.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Joel 2:23-32. Read verses 18-22 for context.
* Describe the setting for this passage: when it was written, who was leading the country, what the social status is, what the religious culture of the nation is, etc.
* What do you think of the translation of Joel’s name? How might that translation have an impact on the text and its interpretation?
* Who do you think Joel is? Consider what difference it might make considering it is difficult to know the exact date of composition for the book.
* What do you think Joel’s function/job/position was in Israel?
* Why do you think God demanded a lament from Israel earlier in this book? For what reason might Israel lament?
* It appears that God has sent locust to destroy the crops of Israel and to make the land destitute – at least for a while. Why might God exact judgment on Israel in this manner? Do you think God’s judgment and punishment is consistent with God’s nature and Israel’s standing as God’s chosen people?
* What is God promising when God responds to Israel’s lament in this section?
* Many proclaim this as an image of the end times or apocalyptic literature. Do you think Joel is pointing to the end times or is there something more at work in this passage?
* What imagery does the wind/spirit mentioned in verse 28 evoke? How might that imagery attempt to connect this passage to the greater body of text in the Old Testament/Hebrew scripture?
* What shame do you think God is speaking about in verses 26 and 27?
* In verses 28 and 29 it appears that God’s spirit is “poured out on all people”, at least in the words of the prophet. Do you think that all people receive or are given the Holy Spirit/spirit of God?
* If receipt of the Holy Spirit is unconditional, what implication might that have on the nature of Christianity and the invocation of the Holy Spirit in Baptism?
* What do you think the good news/gospel message is in this passage that we can convey to our community?